1874-1893: Horse-Drawn Cars

Public transportation in LA began in 1874 when the Spring and West 6th Railroad Company was founded. Despite its name, the first public transit route actually consisted of a single track horse car driven line. The horse line served a part of what is now Downtown LA. The area that was served covered Main Street, Spring Street, First Street and Fort Street (now Broadway), then went on to Fourth Street, Hill Street and Pearl Street (now Figueroa Street).

horsecar 1897

Electric Cable Systems

At the same time, other modes of transportation like electrified cable cars were being introduced elsewhere in LA. By 1896, many of the major companies converted to electrical power for their main means of business. There were several companies that incorporated the use of electric cable systems, the largest of which was the Los Angeles Cable Railway. Their service area ranged from Boyle Heights and other parts of East LA to Westlake Park, and Grand Avenue.

Los Angeles Pacific Cable Railway

 1901: Angel's Flight Railway

Angel's Flight is a Los Angeles landmark. With a length of only 298 feet, it's the world's shortest railway. It dates back to 1901, when Bunker Hill was one of the most fashionable neighborhoods in the city. It transported wealthy citizens up and down the steep slope between Hill and Olive streets. Angel's Flight was dismantled for "urban renewal" of the area in 1969, but the railway was refurbished and relocated a half-block south, reopening adjacent to California Plaza in 1996. For 50 cents, you can ride Angel's Flight and experience LA transportation history today.


1901-1961: Yellow and Red Cars

Eventually, the reliance on electricity became stronger and stronger. After the original companies, the Los Angeles Railway (historically known as 'Yellow Cars') and the Pacific Electric Railway Company ('Red Cars') emerged.  However, there was a drop in the patronage of these vehicles because of the mass production of automobiles. Both companies eventually discontinued their passenger service in the 1960s and Pacific Electric specialized in cargo transport afterwards.

red car

1993 to Present: LA Metro

The current Metro Los Angeles System was founded in 1993. It transports about 1.1 million passengers per week. There are also different bus companies such as the Santa Monica Blue Bus, the Culver City bus and LADOT. Today, LA Metro operates 170 different bus lines, 2,228 buses and offers 15,967 bus stops.

old bus